On March 23, the Houthis media wing released a video showing the moment a US-made MQ-1 unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV) was hit over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa a day earlier.
In the video gun, an explosion can be seen, which confirms that the Houthis used a missile to shot down the UAV and not a heavy anti-aircraft machine
The Houthis are known for possessing several types of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). However, UAVs like the MQ-1 usually flight at an altitude higher than the range of such portable systems.
This means that the Yemen rebel group may have used one of its secret weapons, modified air-to-air missiles. More than a year ago, the Saudi-led coalition revealed that the Houthis are turning missiles of this type, such as the Soviet-made R-27T and R-73E, into ground-to-air missiles.
On October of 2017, an U.S.Q-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) was shoot down over Saana by the Houthis using a modified air-to-air missile.
The Houthis usually use thermal imaging systems to detect and track Saudi-led coalition warplanes before targeting them with their modified missiles. One of the systems used for this purpose is the Flir Systems ULTRA 8500, which was seen with the group in 2017.
Over the last year, the Saudi-led coalition claimed on several occasions that it had damaged the Houthis’ air defense capabilities. The MQ-1 incident proves that all of these claims were false.